VETERANS of the Suez emergency are to be given medals for their role in the campaign, after waiting more than 50 years.

The general service medal clasp will be issued to servicemen who fought in the 1951 to 1954 conflict but many veterans are saying it has taken too long for their efforts to be recognised.

Gravesend veterans from the Royal British Legion have taken part in the long-running campaign to have a medal created for the Suez.

Stan Mainhood, 65, vice-chairman of the Gravesend branch, said: “The legion has been fighting for this for years and I feel at last the lads have been recognised. At last they’ve been honoured and vindicated, but it’s been a long time to wait.” The 1951-54 campaign saw 300 servicemen lose their lives when Britain occupied the region around the Suez canal, a strategically-vital route between Europe and the Middle East, in response to Egyptian nationalism.

Despite the success in achieving the long-awaited recognition of veterans’ efforts, soldiers who took part in the 1956 campaign, which saw troops dropped in to reclaim the Suez canal, feel left out in the cold.

Ron Mainhood, who saw action in 1956 with the second battalion Parachute Regiment, says the Government is ashamed of the campaign.

He said: “It feels like the Government is embarrassed by what happened then so, rather than call it Suez, we’ll call it Near East. It doesn’t make sense to recognise 1951-54 as Suez but not us. It’s not fair to servicemen who went over and put lives on the line.

Veterans or their families should apply in writing for the medal once the Government has issued qualification criteria. They are expected soon.